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U3A Writing: The Mona Lisa

Have you ever wondered what she was thinking while her portrait was being painted? Mary Bourne goes inside the head of a very famous lady.

Why does he keep me waiting? I've been sitting here in front of this wall for three quarters of an hour, having arrived on time, and still he's not here. What has kept him away so long?

I often wonder about this painting that he is doing of me — why choose me, I'm not attractive — he could have chosen others, and as for the dress he insists I wear. I think it's horrid.

He never says much when he's painting, just keeps asking me to look round the studio with my eyes, and not turn my head. It's making me all dizzy and giving me a headache, and then he complains because he says I'm not smiling. Is it any wonder — would you smile if you had to keep moving your eyes from left to right? I feel a right silly-billy. It's bad enough being in a woman's dress and a wig on —whatever next?

I know he's a genius. They all say he's the cleverest man in the world, but he's not good at keeping time and appointments. He may have invented the flying machine, but he does not seem to be using it to get here on time! Well, that's it I suppose, for when you are clever and important you don't get told off if you are late. As for me, if I'm ten minutes late he gets in a rage.

The studio is full of strange drawings, paint everywhere, old rags and half-finished paintings; there's a drawing over there of a man with four arms and four legs. I'd like to read what he's written on some papers, but he writes backwards and you have to look in a mirror to read it, and there's no mirror here. Another ten minutes and I'm taking this silly dress off and go home.

Oh, here he is full of apologies, smiles and charm — the amazing Leonardo. Oh well, I'll have to sit now and move my eyes about for a couple of hours. It's a good thing I'm well paid to do this.

But I doubt the painting will sell for much, and will soon be forgotten, and put in an attic somewhere. It won't ever become famous — it's too strange.

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